Depeschen mit dem Leitwort Biography

»It was Frantz’s responsibility to choreograph the “carefully managed drama of sin and redemption” that took place at an execution. Putting on a good show – that struck terror into the hearts of would-be criminals and enacted the dread majesty of the state – was at the heart of his job. Frantz is a disturbing figure; it is hard to sympathise with cool functionaries who torture and kill, yet Harrington’s portrait makes it hard not to as we learn more about the man and his world.«

Ben Wilson

The gory career of the medieval killer Frantz Schmidt who tried to do his job properly fascinates Ben Wilson. His review on The Faithful Executioner: Life and Death, Honour and Shame in the Turbulent Sixteenth Century by Joel F. Harrington at The Telegraph.

»While Bailey does a thorough job assessing the strengths of The Lost Weekend, his claim for its greatness does not convince.«

Donna Rifkind

The novel The Lost Weekend explores a five-day alcoholic binge and was adapted into a film directed by Billy Wilder. Blake Bailey has now published the biography of author Charles Reginald Jackson: Farther and Wilder: The Lost Weekends and Literary Dreams of Charles Jackson. Read the review of Donna Rifkind on the book at The New York Times.

»Of course, for hard-line deconstructionists, to read a man’s work through his biography is an intellectual error on a par with the “metaphysics of presence.”«

Emily Eakin

Emily Eakin reviews a new biography about Jacques Derrida. Derrida: A Biography by Benoît Peeters, tells the story of a Jewish boy from Algiers, excluded from school at the age of twelve, who went on to become the most widely translated French philosopher in the world. Read more at The New York Review of Books.